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This article is part of a forum on the report of the United Nations Secretary-General, 'Implementing the Responsibility to Protect', which was released on 12 January 2009. The report was written as a response to 'one of the cardinal challenges of our time, as posed in paragraphs 138 and 139 of the 2005 World Summit Outcome: operationalizing the responsibility to protect'. The forum seeks to provide a range of perspectives on the report. It features contributions from Jennifer Welsh, Hugo Slim, David Chandler and Monica Serrano, and it concludes with a response from Special Advisor to the Secretary-General Edward Luck.

In: Global Responsibility to Protect
In: Scottish Educational Review

This article makes the normative case for safe areas as a strategy of civilian protection in forced displacement crises. We start from the idea that the displaced—especially those who remain within the borders of their home state—are in a particularly precarious situation which can, in some circumstances, activate a remedial responsibility to provide protection on the part of the international community. We then argue that this responsibility extends beyond the provision of asylum to include efforts both to prevent displacement and to facilitate the return of displaced persons, and that safe areas may be an important tool to achieve these goals. However, we also note two major risks associated with safe areas which must be considered and mitigated: that they increase rather than decrease overall displacement, and that they diminish rather than enhance protection. We conclude by suggesting why and how the shared responsibility to protect through safe areas should be fairly distributed within the international community.

In: Global Responsibility to Protect

Drawing on international relations theory, this article seeks to both account for and analyze the contestation that continues to surround the norm of R2P. It begins in Section I by arguing that while the 2005 Summit Outcome Document – as an example of ‘institutionalization’ – provided greater precision about the source, scope, and bearer of the responsibility to protect, there is continuing debate about when the international community’s remedial role in protection can and should be activated. In order to understand this reality – which is a challenge to positivist and linear accounts of normative change – we must embrace the intuitions of post-positivist constructivist scholars about the intersubjective nature of norms, and their emphasis on analyzing norms’ ‘meaning in use’. Section II demonstrates in more detail the two kinds of contestation surrounding R2P: procedural contestation concerning who (which body) should ‘own’ its development as a norm; and substantive contestation about its content. R2P is particularly susceptible to contestation, given its inherently indeterminate nature, and the erroneous tendency to measure its impact in terms of whether or not military intervention occurs in particular cases. To respond to these issues, it is argued that the norm of R2P is best conceived as a responsibility to consider a real or imminent crisis involving mass atrocity crimes - what in legal literature is sometimes called a ‘duty of conduct’. Whether or not international action actually occurs - particularly action involving military force - depends on a series of other factors. The final section addresses the challenge to constructivist scholars to be more transparent about the normative commitments that underpin their empirical studies of normative change. It argues that the contestation surrounding R2P can be better understood by giving greater attention to the normative underpinnings of contemporary critiques of the principle – most prominently those which stress the importance of sovereignty equality.

In: Global Responsibility to Protect

Abstract

The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) invokes one of the most powerful moral and legal terms in contemporary international politics – namely, responsibility. The nature of the relationship between R2P and international law and morality, however, remains contested, giving rise to questions lying at the core of R2P's normative foundations. What is the source of R2P? To whom is this responsibility attributable, and under what circumstances? Does R2P give rise to legal obligations? Such questions challenge International Relations (IR) theorists to look beyond their discipline for more insightful tools and methods of analysis. In this article, we apply a broadened theoretical framework to explain the ongoing controversy about R2P. In Part II, we borrow tools from moral philosophy to identify the source and the bearer of the responsibility to protect in today's international society. In Part III, we draw on international legal scholarship to analyse whether R2P has emerged as a 'new' norm of customary international law. We find that international endorsement of R2P has helped to clarify existing obligations in international law, but that intrinsic ambiguities in its articulation currently limit R2P's capacity to entrench new obligations for states to protect strangers. At the same time, our finding that R2P is an example of 'soft law' leads us to conclude that R2P can nonetheless exert significant influence on how states interpret their legal obligations and, in the coming decade, it may also help catalyse diplomatic efforts to reform the international architecture for preventing and responding to mass atrocities.

In: Global Responsibility to Protect
In: Scottish Educational Review